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I’ve been reading Strong and Weak by Andy Crouch with my Facebook reading group over the last few weeks. He defines “flourishing” differently that I would have initially, but after his explanation, I agree with him. My paraphrase of his definition is doing the thing that requires risk and all of you- and doing it with abandon. It doesn’t really matter if you succeed from the perspective of the onlookers, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best at it, it doesn’t matter if you entirely fulfill your goal. It’s the heart behind what you do, it’s the motivator for why you do what you do. I kept comparing his definition of flourishing to parenting initially, as did some of my friends who are also reading the book. Parenting is tough. It is a daily sacrifice and servanthood to little people who may or may not ever know. It’s a stretching past limits I previously thought I couldn’t reach. It’s relying on Jesus in a way I never knew...because I simply want to do it better than I’ve seen it done before....or just better than I did it yesterday. But then I started to apply this expression of flourishing to ministry, campus ministry in a dark and empty place. What does it look like to flourish at this, here in this place? If I use Crouch’s definition, it really has nothing to do with huge numbers, crazy growth, big names or respect from fellow ministers or missionaries. It has to do with challenging the one to grow, with pushing the few farther than they’ve been pushed before, it has to do with being obedient even when it seems to not make sense, it has to do with being brave and creative and willing. And at the core of it all, flourishing can sometime be just standing and not swaying. Serving in our ministry capacity, as far as flourishing is concerned, is simple to say and hard to do. It’s being vulnerable and leading. Vulnerable to extend yourself beyond your limits. Vulnerable to share your life with people that may or may not ever know or care. It’s vulnerably giving up your assumed right of a “successful looking from the outside” ministry. It’s leading because it requires speaking about something that isn’t yet visible. It’s leading because it telling people what it could and will look like. It’s being there for the seemingly unimportant things. It’s training and teaching. It’s having a broader perspective of things than others, yet leading from a place where others sit. Again and again and again. And ultimately, at it’s most basic job description, flourishing in our context- whether others agree or believe it- is just standing. It’s having the honor of the one to declare that where you stand is Holy Ground. It’s representing Christ in a place where He is ignored. It’s putting the time in even when it feels pointless. It’s doing what God has asked you to do whether anyone ever sees it or values it or high-fives you for it. It’s praying for miracles and being ok with not getting the chance to see them happen. It’s throwing the seed on the ground that isn’t ready, or acts like it isn’t ready, or just doesn’t want it.
- Becoming Preppers
I heard a nugget of truth at a regional Chi Alpha staff conference that has stuck with me. It has nothing to do with Chi Alpha at all. It was an answer to a question given during a Q & A session and I can’t seem to shake it. The speaker said, “plan for the life stage five years from now.” His point was to begin planning for where your family will be in five years, so that the next stage of life will not surprise any member of your family. What seems like a “duh” point of advice, really will be life changing if it is implemented. Most of us have seen the three or five year plan for Chi Alpha and goals in ministry, but we often do not look at family life with the same lens. Personally, my kids are currently 11, 9 and 4. I homeschool them while doing Chi Alpha with my husband. If I am thinking through the roles that I play in my family- wife and mom- it will all look different with kids ages 16, 14, and 8. I need to begin prepping for parenting a potentially driving teen, what school options we may or may not choose for all three kids and how two teenage girls will share a bathroom with their 8 year old brother. I will also be celebrating 19 years of marriage by then and might want to begin planning a little kid-free vacation for our 20th the year after. (***Gasping for air, here!***) Perhaps you hope to have a few babies in the next five years? Could you be knee-deep in the teenage years or have high school graduates heading to college or the workforce? Maybe you will be empty nesters with a suddenly quiet house? Or maybe you are not raising children, you may still have family life issues that need planning, such as caring for aging parents and you own retirement. All of these phases and stages bring about new aspects to family life and we can give ourselves a head start by prepping now. The first thing you can do to arrange for life’s next curve is to position yourself in the audience of someone that is already there and knocking it out of the park. Don’t be weird about it, but become their friend and ask questions, observe, take note of how they do things, what kinds of conversations they are having with each other, their kids and with their friends. This is one of the beautiful aspects of being a part of a multi-generational church or small group. Also, continue to develop your own interests and skills. (Or make a list of things you want to learn or discover once you aren’t swimming in the physically exhausting stage of baby and preschool years.) Nothing could be more boring than arriving at the empty nest stage without something fun to do in your off-time. Perhaps you have been dreaming about speaking for weekend retreats and always said no “because of the kids”. It’s possible you will suddenly find yourself with a wide open school-day schedule because the baby is now in kindergarten and you are available to meet with your Chi Alpha students more freely. Thomas Chrisholm wrote “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” based on Lamentations 3:22-24 because, despite having a humble and ordinary life, God continued to be faithful to him each morning. Family life can be boring and extremely fast-paced at the same time, yet God promises to sustain us, with new mercy every morning. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
- Tattered Towels and Bumpy Blankets
14 years and 11 months. 179 months. 5449 days ago Gil and I got married. We were blessed with some amazing bridal showers and wedding gifts, all of which filled cabinets and closets with wonderful things that made our home comfortable. We had a big stack of navy blue towels, light blue towels, and a arm load of sheets. Large creamy blankets, dish towels, and cozy throw blankets for the couch. A large portion of those linens died miserable deaths over the years, but the blue towels and the creamy blankets still remain. I remember trying to use the towels without washing them (gross, I know, but I was a new wife and didn’t think about all the grossness hanging out on them) and how they left navy blue fuzz all over us. The blue towels taught me that new towels aren’t useful until they have been washed several times. These towels dried sweet baby faces, cleaned up mega messes, and have hung- practically every day- in my bathrooms for 15 years. Recently, they have been showing their age. One has a little bleached spot, one has a visible hole, some of the hems are coming undone and they are all getting a little thinner than they once were. A few months ago, Gil began a subtle quest to figure out what color towels I would pick out if I were to replace our navy towels. He tried to be sly, but I picked up on it right away. The first time he asked, I told him I would think about it and get back to him. I thought and thought and, as silly as it sounds, couldn’t think of another color. Blue has hung in my bathroom for so long. Nothing else would match the rest of the bathroom as well as navy blue. I also couldn’t think of getting rid of these silly towels. Our towels have outlasted dishwashers and power tools. Our towels have survived 4 moves and countless (potential) attempts at finding themselves in the lost-towel-bin at the gym. Our towels have left to get stinky in the hamper, handled numerous hours hanging in the sunshine to dry and soaked up just about everything that can be spilled inside of a home. It’s silly how much these towels represent to me. They are like a visible reminder of an invisible pact Gil and I made many moons ago. So, to answer your question G, I just don’t know if I can part with my navy blue towels yet. 😉
- Home | Lindsay Banton
Lindsay is wife to Gil and mom to three beautiful children. She lives in New England but is a Virginia girl. By day, she homeschools her children and works alongside her husband as a campus missionary. By night, she writes for a handful of publications and on her blog. She loves exploring and treasuring hunting of all sorts- in thrift stores, used book shops, geocaching, and the local swap shop. They shall be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for his splendor. Isaiah 61:3 Look for Jesus in the places you might not expect. Go to my blog Subscribe to Lindsay's Newsletter. Submit
- About Lindsay | Lindsay Banton
About Lindsay Been featured in: MOPs Magazine (print) Redbud Post Light for the Lost Newsletter Chi Alpha Newsletter Living Education Journal Living Education Journal Me I'm an accidental writer. Actually, I didn't like writing as a student. Coming up with something to say was difficult. I focused on following the rules for writing rather than communicating an idea. But, when I learned how to password protect a digital document in college, I began writing as a way to process my thoughts. Over time, I developed an appreciation for a well-crafted sentence, a well-developed argument, and anyone who made complex ideas simple enough for others to understand. I hope you feel welcome here and perhaps find something helpful.
- Trail Guide (coming Fall'22) | Lindsay Banton
Trail Guide A Quick Guide to Understanding the Bible by Lindsay Banton Send me an email when it releases Reading and understanding the Bible is quite possible when you are provided with a helpful guide to assist you along the way. Trail Guide, releasing in the fall of 2022, offers straightforward and basic skills to navigate scripture reading.